Billionaire investor George Soros denounced the Hungarian government’s “hate-mongering” campaign against him in an interview, and issued a rebuttal of the national consultation’s statements on his website.
Soros told the Financial Times he “had resisted responding publicly to the attacks from Mr Orban but it was time to speak out”. He said “he now fears for the safety of civil society groups that his foundation supports after Mr Orban said he would press the country’s spy agencies into monitoring their activities”.
“That’s why I felt there was a need to set the record straight in order to defend these groups and individuals who are going to great lengths to defend European values against persecution,”
– he explained.
“It’s a tragedy for Hungary that its government seeks to stay in power through hate-mongering and misleading the population,”
– Soros said. He described the national consultation as a “deliberate misrepresentation” of his views, designed to distract voters from poor education and healthcare standards.
“With Hungary’s health care and education systems in distress and corruption rife, the current government has sought to create an outside enemy to distract citizens. The government selected George Soros for this purpose, launching a massive anti-Soros media campaign costing tens of millions of euros in taxpayer money, stoking anti-Muslim sentiment, and employing anti-Semitic tropes reminiscent of the 1930s. The national consultation is part of an ongoing propaganda effort that has been underway since May 2015 that included the ‘Stop Brussels’ consultation in the spring of 2017 and the referendum that vilified migrants and refugees in 2016,”
– Soros’s written rebuttal states.
The billionaire’s rebuttal claims that all seven statements of the national consultation are “false”.
According to the consultation, Soros “wants Brussels to resettle at least one million immigrants per year”. Soros argues that he didn’t actually say that, instead, in a 2015 article he wrote that the EU will have to “accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future. And, to do that, it must share the burden fairly”, and in 2016, when circumstances changed, he wrote that the EU should make a “commitment to admit even a mere 300,000 refugees annually”.
The consultation claims that Soros wants to dismantle national borders, and open the borders for migrants. According to the rebuttal, Soros “clearly stated his belief that the EU must regain control of its borders”.
According to the consultation Soros wants to “use Brussels to force the EU-wide distribution of immigrants that have accumulated in Western Europe”. The automatic distribution of asylum seekers is an idea brought up by the European Commission in 2015 and is also featured in the report of Swedish liberal MEP Cecilia Wikström, which was recently supported by the European Parliament. The Hungarian government often refers to a leaked document which lists Wikström and 225 other MEPs as “reliable allies” of George Soros. Nevertheless, in his rebuttal Soros claims that this is idea is not coming from him, because “in his most recent commentary on the refugee crisis, George Soros endorsed a voluntary matching mechanism for relocating refugees”.
The consultation claims that Soros wants the EU to “pay immigrants HUF 9 million (€28,000) in welfare”. The rebuttal recalls that Soros wrote: “Adequate financing is critical. The EU should provide €15,000 per asylum-seeker for each of the first two years to help cover housing, health care, and education costs—and to make accepting refugees more appealing to member states.”
To the other three claims (Soros wants immigrants to receive milder criminal sentences for the crimes they commit; push the languages and cultures of Europe into the background; initiate political attacks against those countries which oppose immigration) the rebuttal simply responded: “Nowhere has Soros made any such statement. This is a lie.”